As a 22 year old, I’ve not been very actively politically – until now. The federal election has definitely made me more engaged. Once I join the workforce, over time, I’ll likely be investing over half of my income not into a home or family needs, but into governments through taxes. That realization has motivated me to track political issues, and has given me a sense of ownership over the decisions that our governments make.
According to mytaxburden.ca, I’ll pay nearly $1.25 million in taxes in my lifetime – three times what my parents paid. I’ll get just over $1 million in transfers back. The difference between what I will pay and get back represents a tax burden of around $230,000 – over seven times higher than my parents. That’s why the issue of growing debt is so important for young people like me.
Big promises by big governments cost a lot. Just like when you don’t pay off a credit card bill, the interest payments go up, interest payments on our national debt are also going up. That debt burden translates into either even more borrowing or higher taxes. Once again, those debt costs are going to fall on our shoulders. This question of debt has got me thinking: how should we prioritize the promises of the government so we can actually afford them?
The first priority should be support for small business. I’m a business student at University of Toronto and many of us are excited to run our own companies someday. Achieving those entrepreneurial dreams will depend on attracting foreign capital that will seed our start-ups and help us grow. Making sure tax policies are competitive – especially with the US – will have a direct effect on our ability to compete for both great investors and great people. As job creators, putting Canadian businesses first, and reducing the barriers for business growth should be a priority of the next government.
Unfortunately, Canada is losing its reputation as a good place to invest. That’s partly due to deep divisions on energy development that have scared investors away. And it’s also due to the SNC Lavalin bribery scandal. For young people with entrepreneurial dreams, this kind of damage to Canada’s global reputation can have a direct impact on our futures as business leaders. Helping Canada regain its position on the world stage should be another priority of the next government.
As a finance major, I’ve been paying attention to what’s happening around Brexit. The city of London – which used to be a magnet for global investment – is now too high risky for investors due to political uncertainty. Political uncertainty also impacts Canada’s investment climate. When there are strong divisions on issues, especially between the east and the west, the political instability threatens the well-being of all of Canadians. It puts our economic security at risk. And it puts our social security at risk. Instead, let’s take advantage of what we have—from natural resources to highly skilled talent and a world-class education system—so that we can maximize opportunities for young people.
For most of my life I’ve avoided talking politics with friends because I worried that the conversations would be divisive. But since I’ve become involved in an initiative called Canada Powered by Women. We wanted a different kind of political conversation in Canada. So we’re leading one. I’ve pushed myself to start asking my friends what they care about politically. And they’ve opened up. As an Albertan going to school in Ontario, I can say that we do think differently about some things. But we also shared a lot of important similarities.
At the core, we’re more alike than we are different. We’re one Canada, but sometimes we don’t act like it. The more we can connect and understand one another, the better we will be able to look out for each other. I hope that’s something we can all vote for.
Bryn Robertson is a finance major at the University of Toronto and a founding member of Canada Powered by Women.